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City council to vote on pedestrian tunnels, passport kiosks at Charlotte airport

Charlotte City Council will vote Monday night on several new projects at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, including pedestrian tunnels to connect the terminal and parking decks, and automated passport kiosks to speed the entry process for international travelers.

An item on the agenda calls for the city to change its contract with firm LS3P Associated, the firm designing the airport’s $120-million hourly parking decks, to accommodate the addition of pedestrian tunnels between the terminal and the decks. The new decks will also hold the rental car facilities, which will be moved from their current spot on Rental Car Road.

The $484,340 contract addition will pay for LS3P to design the tunnels. When in place, the tunnels will allow passengers to walk to and from the new hourly parking decks without crossing the road at the arrivals level.

The airport is also asking for approval to spend about $2.5 million on 24 new automated passport kiosks.

The kiosks are necessary, airport officials say, because of the start of four new seasonal non-stop US Airways flights to Lisbon, Barcelona, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Brussels; and Manchester, England. During peak travel times, passengers wait an average of 52 minutes in the international arrivals area.

But the new US Airways flights, along with one additional flight to Mexico City that will start this summer, will increase that wait time to 70 minutes, officials say. That’s long enough to cause most passengers to miss their connecting flights.

Charlotte Douglas says the kiosks will let some U.S. citizens complete much of the processing themselves, speeding up arrival times for many.

The cost would cover the kiosk purchase from the Vancouver Airport Authority, installation by the Bowers Group, and ongoing maintenance.

The airport is also asking for a new two-year, $485,000 contract with Roy Johnson, a retired architect from Odell Associates who has worked with the airport designing projects for 12 years. Johnson will help Charlotte Douglas plan, design and review projects such as its planned terminal expansion, which is set to expand the terminal building by 90 feet out towards the parking deck.

Johnson will work part-time at an hourly rate of $155, according to the agenda.

Charlotte Douglas is an independently-funded city department, reporting to City Council and the City Manager. The agenda items Monday are on City Council’s consent agenda, which is typically approved with a single vote for all items.

Portillo: 704-358-5041; Twitter: @ESPortillo
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